Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Wendy Kliewer, PhD

Second Advisor

Marcia A. Winter, PhD

Third Advisor

Zewelanji Serpell, PhD

Fourth Advisor

Cecelia R. Valrie, PhD

Fifth Advisor

Ananda B. Amstadter, PhD


The goals of present study were: (a) to examine associations between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and telomere length during childhood using ACE composite scores both with and without “new” adversities (i.e., parental death and poverty), and (b) to determine if ACEs indirectly affect telomere length through children’s self-regulatory abilities (i.e., effortful control and self-control). The analytic sample consisted of national data from teachers, biological parents, and their children (N = 2,527; Mage = 9.35, SD = .36 years; 52% male; 45% Black). Results from linear regression analyses revealed a statistically significant main effect of updated (but not traditional) ACEs on child telomere length, controlling for hypothesized covariates, although the additional amount of variance explained by ACEs was negligible. Results from mediation analyses revealed an indirect effect of ACEs on child telomere length through self-control, assessed via a teacher-reported Social Skills Rating System, but not effortful control. While longitudinal studies are needed to strengthen claims of causation, the present study clarifies the association between ACEs and telomere length during middle childhood, and identifies a pathway from ACEs to changes in telomere length that should be explored further.


© David Sosnowski

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission